A big thank-you to those of you who knew I was going to Asia for three weeks’ teaching and preaching. Be encouraged; the Lord answered your prayers abundantly – all very exciting.
I was invited for this trip by Covenant Evangelical Free Church in Singapore. Last time I had been with them and got their church statistics they had 5,000 church attendance. Now they have grown to 6,000! They believe they should have one pastor for every hundred members, but are planning on coming growth and are already wanting to appoint another pastor in readiness for the next hundred to be added to their church.
The heart of the church is very much geared to mission all over Asia. They particularly stress business as the means of international mission. Their recently retired missions secretary, Elder Tan Lian Seng, was my wonderful host and guide in this recent visit. His/their aim is to establish various business enterprises together with significant local business people in the various countries. These enterprises will give employment and money to local Christians and 10% of profits will be fed into the local church. On my recent trip it was a great privilege to meet and share with various key business people in Java and Sarawak. All sorts of plans are afoot which could benefit the local churches significantly.
In 1973 a sweeping revival broke out in the highlands of Sarawak in a small town called Bario among the Kelabit people. Having touched everybody among the Kelabits and transformed them, it then spread throughout Sarawak and Sabah. Six months after the start of the revival I was invited to go and give some Bible teaching. What an experience with people, some of whom even walked for several days in order to get the teaching! There was a vital hunger for everything the Spirit could give them. Honesty became normal in society, so the law courts closed for four years because there was no crime and people suing each other became reconciled and the law cases were withdrawn. The local secondary school headmaster told me that now through the revival they no longer had any discipline problems, but could just concentrate on actual teaching. And the local prayer meetings were wonderful and richly inspirational. What a joy now to meet up with some people I had met in the 1973 revival! Some even told me the content of my teaching sessions. One even remembered the detailed content of my messages point by point – after 43 years! It was so exciting to feel that revival spirit being renewed in me again too.
The purpose of my teaching and preaching was to encourage local Christians and churches in outreach among Ms., our faith cousins. It was wonderful too to meet some converted cousins from Mal..sia. They told me of large groups of new Christians with 5-600 members in various places we had known when we lived in that country. In Java too quite a few are becoming believers although outreach among them has been minimal – pray that this may increase as a result of my ministry.
Before leaving England I had insisted that I must have an interpreter for my talks. I had frankly given up on the possibility of reviving my Indonesian language. It was 53 years since we left Indonesia! But God loves to surprise us with his miracles. And to my amazement I found myself ministering some times with an interpreter, but also some times direct in Indonesian – and it flowed wonderfully! What a God we have! Isn’t he amazing?!
Although they are all in English and none is in Indonesian, our books were in great demand. Pray that they may have an on-going ministry which underlines the content of my teaching and preaching.
Sadly Elizabeth was not able to travel with me, but I was together in Singapore, Java (Surabaya, Malang and Bandung – mainly in theological seminaries) and Sarawak (Miri – in the Bible School and in local churches) with the recently retired but still very active missions elder of Covenant EFC, Elder Tan Lian Seng (ex-All Nations – it was a joy to meet several ex-All Nations people), and his personal assistant Ada Chan. They were both so warm, spiritually minded, extremely efficient and delightful companions. We enjoyed lots of humour together, but with an underlying seriousness of mission purpose. I depend these days on Elizabeth for help in everyday living, but they stepped into her shoes amazingly. And Ada was brilliant as an intermediary in the to-and-fro of loving emails with Elizabeth – a task she seemed really to enjoy! Meanwhile our three children took it in turns to have Elizabeth staying with them and to care for her. She is doing very well indeed after her slight heart attack and feels something of a fraud in having to be somewhat careful of herself.